by Jonathan Rosenblum
April 3, 2015
The other night I woke up around 4:00 a.m. in a cold sweat thinking about the Iran nuclear deal that the P5+1 is prepared to sign, if only Iran will agree. As Prime Minister Netanyahu put it in his speech to Congress, the sunset provisions of the proposed accord ensure that Iran will attain nuclear arms capability even if they do not violate the terms of the agreement. And I for one take Iran's leaders seriously when they speak of the necessity of removing Israel from the map.
I don't worry that the Iranians would immediately employ a nuclear weapon. My concern (following Bret Stephens) is that if the theocrats in Teheran ever sensed that power was ebbing from their grasp, they would not go as quietly into the night as the Shah did. Being believers, after all, they might well decide that the time to earn their world-to-come had arrived, just as Hitler, ym"sh, a different kind of messianist, diverted crucial resources from the doomed German war effort to pursue his "final solution."
Given the number of restive ethnic minorities in Iran today and the alienation of most of the population from the mullahs, that moment when the regime teeters might not be that far off.
Whether or not the Iranians ever employed their nukes, their mere possession would serve as an umbrella for Iran's highly aggressive foreign policy, in particular against Israel. Already today Iran is actively seeking to surround Israel from all sides – Lebanon, the Sinai, the Gaza Strip, and most recently the Syrian Golan – with its well-armed proxies. Every lessening of the sanctions regime against Iran leaves Teheran with more money in its coffers for making mischief abroad.
The Obama administration's explicit decision to decouple nuclear negotiations with Iran from its aggressive support of terrorists around the globe, including playing host to numerous Al Qaeda operatives, observes Walter Russell Mead, is incoherent. That is the second great defect of the agreement now on the table.
The final irony of the deal, if it goes through, is that President Obama, who came into office committed to dramatically reducing nuclear arms, will have triggered the most rapid explosion of nuclear states in history, in the world's most unstable region. Saudi Arabia has already paid for off-the-shelf nuclear weapons from Pakistan, and Turkey and Egypt would almost certainly follow suit. None of these regimes are so stable that conjuring up those weapons falling into the hands of radical Islamists is difficult.
French foreign minister Laurent Fabius, speaking recently to the French Foreign Affairs committee is reported by France's leading political weekly Le Canard Enchaine to have made clear his deep distrust ("contempt really," according to one member of parliament) for both John Kerry and Barack Obama, and their nuclear naivete. "The United States was really ready to sign just about anything with the Iranians," another member of parliament reported Fabius as saying. What concerns the French most, reports Anne-Elisabeth Moutet of the Gatestone Institute, is the terrifying prospect that if the Saudis, Turks or Egyptians obtain nuclear weapons an irresponsible leader might use them or they might fall into the hands of a terrorist group.
I WOULD ARGUE THAT THE PROPOSED IRAN DEAL is worse than that Britain and France entered into with Hitler at Munich for two reasons. Neville Chamberlain knew that Britain was not prepared to confront Germany militarily when he signed at Munich. By contrast, the United States enjoys overwhelming military superiority over Iran and could easily destroy its present nuclear facilities. Yet Obama treats military action as unthinkable.
True, Iran would likely respond by unleashing its terrorist networks around the globe, but it would have plenty of other inviting targets for American bombers to deter it from proceeding too far down that lane.
But the even more distressing aspect of the comparison to Munich is that American Jewry has served as Obama's enabler on the path to legitimizing a nuclear Iran and placing six million Jews in Israel under mortal threat by twice voting for him in very high percentages.
That Obama has no great affinity for Israel was clear from the beginning. His 2008 foreign policy team leaned heavily to the "realist" side – i.e., those who view the Palestinian problem as the crux of all that ails the Middle East. That view has been conclusively refuted by the unraveling of the region since Arab Spring, though the news has yet to reach Foggy Bottom or the White House.
Two of those early advisors were so toxic that they had to be dropped from the campaign lest American Jews get suspicious. One was Samantha Powers, who once called for American troops to defend Palestinians from murderous Israelis. The other was Robert Malley, whose father, one of the founders of the Egyptian Communist Party, counted Yasir Arafat as a friend. Malley was the only member of the U.S. team at Camp David, including President Clinton himself, not to blame Arafat for the breakdown of the talks by walking out without making so much as a counter-offer. Powers has now resurfaced as U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. and Malley as the head of the Middle East desk of the National Security Council.
Early in his presidency, Obama told a group of American Jewish leaders that he intended to put distance between the United States and Israel. And he wasted no time. He and Secretary of State Clinton pretended that President Bush's commitment to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon that any peace settlement would have to take into account the new reality on the ground of large settlement blocks was irrelevant, even though Bush's letter was the quid pro quo for the total Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. Instead the administration treated Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem built since 1967 as no different than the most farflung settlement. (Iran take note of the binding force of executive agreements.)
At the outset of his second term, Obama made his disdain for Israel even clearer, just in case anyone had missed the point. He chose former senator Chuck Hagel, a man of no discernible qualifications, as Secretary of Defense. While in the Senate, Hagel had a well-earned reputation as the senator most hostile to Israel. At the time of his appointment, Hagel was a regular speaker on the American Muslim banquet circuit, lamenting the undue Jewish influence over American foreign policy. And even more ominously, he was closely connected to the Iranian lobby.
As CIA director, Obama appointed John Brennan, a long-time apostle of the moderation of both the Muslim Brotherhood (of which Hamas is an affiliate) and Hezbollah. In his previous task, as Obama's counter-terrorism director, Brennan devoted much of his energies to purging all references to Islam from the government's counter-terrorism manuals.
All Obama's hostility came rushing to the fore last week in his childish and vindictive response to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's election victory. When Obama could finally bring himself to speak to the prime minister on the phone, it was only to admonish him for his electioneering comments. When Netanyahu attempted to walk back his comment that there would be no Palestinian state while he was prime minister, Obama was having none of it. The typical diplomatic response would have been: We are pleased that Prime Minister has clarified his remark and reaffirmed his commitment to a two-state solution.
Instead Obama insisted that Netanyahu's one remark was definitive and necessitated a complete reassessment of American support for Israel at the UN and elsewhere. He chose to ignore that Netanyahu spoke in the context of a long explanation of why no two-state agreement is on the horizon – every point of which is beyond cavil.
When, one wonders, did Obama ever speak in a similar fashion to Mahmoud Abbas or with such heat about any world despot? Did he ever tell Abbas that his failure to respond to Israel's unprecedented nine-month settlement freeze necessitated an American reassessment? Or that the Palestinian Authority by pressing its statehood bid at the UN, in direct contravention of Secretary of State Kerry's request, had made it impossible for the U.S. to continue acting as a middleman? Has the president ever suggested that the continual incitement against Israel and Jews in the Palestinian media and the glorification of arch-terrorists by naming schools, summer camps, town squares after them, from Oslo until today, calls into question the PA's commitment to a two-state solution? Has he ever pointed out that by remaining in office for seven years beyond the expiration of his term, Abbas has raised serious questions about the PA's readiness for statehood?
To Ayatollah Ali Khameini's repeated calls for "Death to America," Assad's killing of 200,000 Syrians and displacement of millions more, Putin's invasion of Ukraine, all we get is No Drama Obama. Only Prime Minister Netanyahu gets his viscera going. And yet, I'd wager that if elections were held today, American Jews would still support Obama in higher percentages than any group other than blacks.
AS DEPRESSING AS THIS MIGHT BE, I'm not going to let it ruin my Pesach. Just the opposite, I expect Pesach to lift my spirits. Because sippur yetzias Mitzrayim reminds us that things have been worse, lots worse. In Egypt, we were slaves to a nation from which no slave had ever escaped, much less 600,000.
Our ancestors were so downtrodden and broken in spirit by their prolonged servitude that Hashem recognized that they would flee at the first sound of battle, and therefore did not let the bnei Yisrael go out the shortest route through the land of the Philistines. At the first sign of adversity, the generation of servitude immediately expressed its longing for the fleshpots of Egypt and the food that the Egyptian slave masters provided.
It would take a new generation, not raised in slavery, to conquer the Land.
Even in the death camps, Jews risked their lives and gave up their daily rations to acquire a few wheat kernels in order to bake precious matzah. Why? Because the memory of how Hashem took us out from Egypt b'cheref ayin, gave them hope that they too would survive the death camps, and that just as Hashem took out a slave people, who could do nothing for themselves, with a "strong arm," so could He save them.
We are no longer slaves. We have been ennobled by the Torah as free men for well over three millennia.
But one thing remains the same: the same G-d Who took us out from Egypt continues to reveal Himself to the world through His people today. And He can protect us from any enemy.
Chag Kasher ve'Sameach